Search Results for "football"

21st 2010
She opened the press release all by herself!

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

At least a dozen ways to stoopid, by Froma Harrop:

Bill Gates recently predicted: “Five years from now on the Web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.”

A year at a university costs an average $50,000, the Microsoft founder and Harvard dropout said last month. The Web can deliver the same quality education for $2,000.

Yet American colleges continue to float in the bubble of economic exceptionalism once occupied by Detroit carmakers.  American median income has grown 6.5 times over the past 40 years, but the cost of attending one’s own state college has ballooned 15 times. This kind of income-price mismatch haunted the housing market right before it melted down.

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

As the father of a student at Kenyon College told me, “It’s like driving a new Corvette to Ohio every September, leaving the keys and taking the bus home.”

This reminds me of that old Calgon bath salts commercialinternets, take us away!!!  So why does that father choose to do what Harrop implies is the economically irrational thing and continue to drive that Corvette every autumn to Ohio?  Gee, I wonder! Continue Reading »


12th 2010
The net effect of the “high cost of higher ed” argument

Posted under American history & book reviews & class & local news & students & wankers

This is the first of the 2010-2011 academic year’s series, Excellence Without Money(a term coined by the b!tchez at Roxie’s World in their series on the high cost of not funding higher education.)  For the full archives at both blogs, click away on those links, darlings.

I’ve been doing a little thinking about the effects of the arguments we’re seeing everywhere about the high cost of higher education.  Complaints about the cost of college, and the rate at which it’s increased in the past two decades, are always a major part of the argument in the slew of books published recently urging major reform of American universities.  Strangely enough, none of these books suggest that the federal and state governments should once again subsidize higher education at the rate it did during the Cold War, nor do they advocate ripping out computer labs and IT departments, which are the two biggest reasons college costs more than it used to.  (From 1986-90, my “laptop computer” was a $2.99 multi-subject notebook that I bought at the beginning of each semester.  If you started college before the mid-1990s, I’m betting that that was your “laptop,” too.) 

Instead, their arguments boil down once again to attacks on the faculty–especially tenured radicals who absurdly expect to be paid a living wage for their years of education, work, and expertise.  Oddly, all of these books have chosen to ignore how universities have slashed the costs of faculty labor by turning tenure-track and tenured jobs into positions held by adjuncts, who are paid as little as $3,000 per course and are at-will employees.  Distressingly, because of some recent resignations and regular faculty on leave, my department is this year an adjunct-majority department.  (But because it’s been years since regular faculty produced more student credit hours than our adjuncts, so perhaps this is less of a milestone than I suggested in the previous sentence.  For several years, it’s my understaning that two popular lecturers in my department produced fully half of the entire department’s FTEs.)

The problem with these articles–aside from their one-sided arguments that somehow faculty are the big piggies at the trough, not the NFL and NBA farm clubs (a.k.a. the “football teams” and the “men’s basketball teams”), not CEO-level multimillion-dollar salaries for university presidents and football and basketball coaches, and not the luxury condominiums that now pass for stadiums and dormatories–is that they’re written by upper-middle class journalists and writers who all attended and sent–or aspire to send–their children to the top 5 or 10 percent of the most selective, and usually private, colleges and universities.  Now, if the only universities you’d consider sending your children to cost $30,000-$55,000 a year, your world is very different from the world the vast majority of Americans inhabit.  But these are the people who are driving this “debate” in the op-ed pages of the New York Times and your local newspaper.

Take look at Baa Ram U.’s fee schedule for the 2010-11 school year, where tuition and fees are still less than $7,000 a year.  At an average courseload of 10 3-credit classes per year, that’s less than $700 a class.  How strange that the low cost of higher education in universities like mine doesn’t drive the debate!  Continue Reading »


7th 2010
Tuesday roundup: drunken a$$hats edition

Posted under art & bad language & jobs & local news & students & unhappy endings & wankers

Kiss my chap$, little boys!

Howdy, friends:  I was away for a long holiday weekend, but now I’m back in the saddle and ready to ride on out.  Lots of great news and views in the blogosphere–so I’ll let your fingers do the clicking while I catch up on my day job!

  • First, Tenured Radical has a great post up (and a great comments thread) about the “culture” of campus drinking and the curious blindness or acceptance we adults have for the very real personal and financial consequences.  We like to think it’s the under-25s, but it isn’t.  I can attest to that–this weekend in Denver it was the annual Rocky Mountain showdown between in-state rivals, the University of Colorado and Baa Ram U.  When we were out and about on Saturday night, it wasn’t just the under-25s making the 16th St. Mall Ride smell like a brewery.  There were plenty of middle-aged people literally stumbling around town in their Buffs or Rams jerseys.  (Sometimes even with their grade-school aged–or younger–kids!  No joke.  That kind of shocked me.)  Pathological drinking doesn’t come from nowhere–and I’ve heard that local hospitals go on Red Alert in many college towns during Parents’ Weekend–not because the student drinking is any worse, but because a lot of parents drink themselves into stupors that require hospitalization! 
  • But, at least the more dedicated and experienced drinkers among us know how to be reasonably discreet.  One thing I think that has changed about student drinking since I was in college is the sense of entitlement today’s students have not just to drink on campus or in their houses and dorms, but to behave as though the campus extends to wherever they happen to be, subjecting innocents to public drunkenness and really trashy behavior.  I had the unfortunate experience of swimming in a rooftop pool Saturday afternoon at what I thought was a pretty swank hotel, when I found myself in the middle of some a$$holes’ beer commercial fantasy:  Continue Reading »


13th 2010
I didn’t wake up angry about my six-hour per week job.

Posted under book reviews & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & women's history

Over Ten Million Served:  Gendered Service in Lanugage and Literature Workplaces is a new book edited by Michelle A. Massé and Katie J. Hogan that raises two old questions:  1) Why don’t academic workplaces value service and honor it in career advancement to the degree it should be, and 2) How is this undervaluing of service implicated in the gendering of service as feminized (and therefore volunteer/underpaid/unrewarded) carework?  A brief interview with the editors is at Inside Higher Ed today.

These conversations about service are like conversations about the weather, in that everyone talks about it all of the time but no one does anything about it.  In our current state of crisis on university faculties–with the adjunctification of the profession in the past twenty years plus our soon-to-be double-dip recession–are we likely to finally do anything about it now?  Or are we even less likely, because of the state of overall economic crisis?  My sense is that few of us feel motivated to go that “extra mile” in the face of rescissions, cutbacks, salary freezes, and even furloughs.

For those of you interested in thinking about our state of crisis in American universities more generally should see the reviews by Tenured Radical and Jesse Lemisch at New Politics of Higher Education: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids – And What We Can Do About It by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus.  Apparently, liberal arts professors who make $100,000 and spend only 6 hours a week in the classroom, take sabbaticals, and conduct research (the nerve!!!) are as much of the problem as running farm clubs for the NBA and the NFL and CEO-sized salaries for university presidents and other administrators.  (Does anyone ever say that football coaches only work three hours on Saturdays in the fall, because that’s when their teams play?  I never hear that for some reason, yet here we have the familiar accusation that if professors aren’t leading a class every single minute of the day, then they’re not working.)  Continue Reading »


25th 2010
Privilege, rage, and Southern Honor

Posted under American history & class & Gender & race & students & unhappy endings & women's history

I saw this article published Sunday about the murderer of University of Virginia student and lacrosse star Yeardley Love, and was puzzled by the headline that appeared to juxtapose the life of “privilege, [and] rage” he led.  The lede in the story then contrasts the murderer’s appearance on the links at an exclusive country club just hours before he murdered Love.  But, privilege and rage aren’t opposed to each other–in fact, they’re deeply intertwined in the lives of American ruling class men.  Consider please a few excerpts from the story, which look like textbook examples of how ruling class men presume to use other people, and women in particular, as part of their performance of dominance:

[George] Huguely[V] finished the eighth grade at Mater Dei School in Bethesda and matriculated to nearby Landon School, an elite boys’ private school. He did not want for confidence. Thrust into a football game as a freshman, he promised a coach he would make a big play — in exchange for a kiss from the coach’s fiancee, according to a Washington Post profile in 2006. Huguely promptly intercepted a pass, then walked off the field to ask for the fiancee’s number.

.       .       .       .      .       .      .       .      

Huguely also displayed an irreverent side. Once he stole his coach’s car keys from his office, pulled his car onto the lacrosse field and, from the driver’s seat, struck up a conversation with the coach. The team burst out laughing, according to Huguely’s account. Continue Reading »


2nd 2010
Sheep dip from Baa Ram U.

Posted under American history & jobs & local news & students & unhappy endings

Someone's going to take a bath, alright!

I’ve got a question for all of you proffies out there, in any and all disciplines:  do any of your departments give credit from your university to high school students taking “approved” courses for college credit in their high schools?  As in, they’ll take an advanced class taught by a high school teacher (like perhaps an AP or IB class, or maybe not), and it will show up on their transcripts as a course taken at your university. (And they’ll get this credit without having taken the AP exam, for which usually students need to get a 4 or a 5 in order to have it accepted for college credit.)  This apparently is the Colorado legislature’s brilliant scheme for “saving money”–as in, the money of parents of high school students who would otherwise need to be accepted into and enrolled at a university (or at least pay for an AP exam) and pay tuition in order to receive college credit for the course. 

Is it really in our best interests to send the message that college is a tedious hassle that should be gotten over with as soon as possible?  Do we agree that there’s little difference between high school and college classes, and anyone can teach them?  How does this not turn us into Wal-Mart in the long run?  I’m not saying we’re Barney’s here, but I think we hold our own as a dependable Sears or J.C. Penny of higher education. Continue Reading »


21st 2010
International flight film reviews

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Gender

I don’t really get out much to see new movies–the best I can do is get them on NetFlix and hope that I can manage to stay awake past 9 p.m. to watch them.  So, international travel permits me an almost unparalleled opportunity to watch a variety of recent movies!  Herewith are a few short reviews of the movies I saw (and/or dozed through) on the flight back home from our spring vacation:

  • The Blind SideO.  mai.  Gawd.  I’m shocked that anyone involved in this movie was considered for an Academy Award.  This by-the-numbers plot traffics in some of the worst stereotypes I’ve ever seen in pop culture in my lifetime.  It’s like a bizarro world view of how the U.S. really works, wherein the “bad guys” who threaten the African American protagonist are all black (drug dealers and a rep from the NCAA), and the “good guys” helping the protagonist are all rich, white people (the adoptive family, the tutor they hire, and top U.S. college football coaches.)  One exception:  one white “bad guy” is a high school teacher who dares to assign the young football hopeful a D for his schoolwork!  Yeah, that’s a reasonable representation of how power works in America:  if only the evil high school teachers and drug dealers would yield all of the power to rich white people and let them do whatever they see fit, all of our problems would be solved!  I saw nothing special in Sandra Bullock’s performance of a stereotypical pillar of True Womanhood, although I thought they could have afforded to give her a better dye job.  (How she beat out Gabourey Sidibe for Best Actress is beyond me.)
  • Whip It:  A totally awesome movie about a high school misfit and reluctant beauty pageant contestant from Bodeen, Texas who goes to Austin and becomes a rocking Roller Derby queen, starring Ellen Page, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden, Alia Shawkat (“Maeby” from Arrested Development) and Drew Barrymore (who also directed the film), among a bunch of other women actors of all ages.  It’s a great coming-of-age movie, with some of the classic markers of the genre (the first love affair, the confrontation of parental foibles, tensions among friends), but it’s smart and sensitive without being overly sentimental.  If like Tenured Radical you also didn’t like The Hurt Locker because of its simplistic and hackneyed portrayal of masculinity in war and because of its exclusion of women charactersWhip It is the antidote.  Continue Reading »


17th 2009
Howard Dean: harshing that Village of Oz buzz

Posted under American history & unhappy endings & wankers

wizardcurtainI always liked Howard Dean.  I thought he was the best choice in 2004, and although I don’t know if he would have beat Bush, he would have gone down swinging (unlike John Kerry.)  Although he’s been on TV over the last several months speaking up for “health care reform,” like the good Dem that he is, he has decided that he can’t support (today’s) iteration of the Senate bill

So, guess what?  The good doctor, who is not in office now, has no role in the Dem party, and doesn’t have a role in government anywhere, MUST BE DESTROYED.  Again!  He’s being accused of having “lost his mind!”  The White House has whispered that it’s all “irrational,” just his personal beef with Joe Lieberman.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller–a totally useless Dem if there ever was one–accuses Dean of being childish, “sob”ing and “complain”ing: Continue Reading »


20th 2009
Excellence without Money!, part III: Knowledge without Books!

Posted under American history & jobs & students

knowledgewithoutbooksAnother in our occasional series on the Great Recession and the crisis in funding public institutions of higher education, with thanks to Moose at Roxie’s World for coining the phrase “Excellence without Money!”

Johann Neem, an Associate Professor of History at Western Washington University, has an article over at Inside Higher Ed called “Reviving the Academic Library.”  In his brief comments, he defends the traditional library, something that many librarians are reluctant to do these days.  Just read some of the angry comments–most of them from librarians, and some of them well-earned, by the way.  Neem writes rather condescendingly about librarians, who are at most universities tenure-track and tenured scholars themselves, and he claims that education can only take place inside university classrooms.  That was unfortunate hyperbole, in my view, because in the main I agree with Neem.  (Can’t we all just get along?)

In case we’ve forgotten, amidst all those i-Pod downloads and football games and keg parties, Neem explains that “[t]he core purposes of the academy are to teach and to produce new knowledge. Continue Reading »


8th 2009
Women’s bodies in the crosshairs of “health care reform”

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & Gender & Intersectionality & the body & wankers & women's history

Female_MannequinIt’s interesting (and sadly unsurprising) to me that two of the most powerful and emotional arguments the right-wing is mounting against health care reform have women’s bodies–or, more specifically, their uteri–at the center of them.  First of all, of course, the faithful are being scared to death that increasing government involvement in and funding for health care will mean that Godly taxpayers will be forced to underwrite abortions.  Secondly, we’re told that health care reform will force all American taxpayers to pay for the health care of illeeeeegal alieeeeunnnns and their hoards of anchor babies!  (And characteristically, it looks like most Dems are happy to pander to these boogeymen, rather than defending privacy rights.) 

On the one hand, right-wing opponents of health care reform claim that they shouldn’t have to pay for anyone else’s abortion, even indirectly.  On the other hand, they complain that health care reform will force them to pay for the health care of undocumented immigrants.  In both cases, some people, somewhere are having sex and making decisions about their own bodies and families of which others disapprove and don’t want to underwrite with their tax dollars.

I agree!  I don’t want to have to pay for any medications or procedures of which I disapprove on religious grounds, either.  So, here’s what we’ll ban next:  Continue Reading »


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